Valentine’s Day-Tona

admin | May 9, 2010 in Music | Comments (4)

Some greet this day with the loving smell of roses drifting through the room.

I wake to the tender sweet fragrance of hot rubber and gasoline.

Some choose carefully the morning’s soundtrack, a painstakingly selected musical memory that fills the air, reminiscent of the loving moment the two of them have shared…and meaning very little to anyone else.

I wake to the revving of engines and the rumble of automotive anticipation.

Some wake to prepare breakfast in bed, fresh coffee announcing its arrival as its aromatic splendor wafts upstairs to where she sleeps, awaiting the visit from her boy.

I climb out of my bunk, stagger out the bus door, and find stale coffee on a barren table outside where the crowd has begun to assemble…awaiting the visit from OUR boys.

Valentine’s Day at the Daytona 500.  Sure.  When I think romantic reflection, affection, and love, that’s what I’m thinking of – screeching tires screaming around the corner at more than 170 miles per hour around a steaming track surrounded by roughly 168,000 rowdy howling race fans.

Doesn’t everybody?

Okay, maybe not.  But it is a great capper to a very full two-day travel adventure.  Only twenty-four hours earlier, I was slogging through the snow with my favorite stalker at the Red Flannel Run in Des Moines, Iowa. A quick cleanup and it was on to lunch, rehearsal, and then a rocking Wells Fargo Arena welcoming Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors on our “Southern Voice” tour.  Straight from the stage, it was to the airport…and on to Daytona, Florida.

(Jeff Gordon's crew and car are good to go, sharp and ready for the race.)

So here I am, wrinkled and bent after an all-night flight, a two-hour nap on the bus, with bad coffee in hand as I wobble over to our stage o’ the day.  The stage is huge and already surrounded by friends and fans as we arrive.  Winking digital cameras flash their greetings as I step behind my keyboards and try to pick the sleep from the corner of my eye: “Mornin’, y’all.”  Yawn.

Video screens and “Daytona 500” banners provide a stunning backdrop, and a giant thrust out front gives the boss plenty of room to get up close and personal with the folks.  The stage is flanked by ramps on both sides allowing for a race car to be actually driven across the stage! Television cameras begin to plot out their plan to carry our few songs out to the millions watching at home; this is gonna be BIG.

Parked off the side on one of the ramps, a red, white and blue race car emblazoned with “Tim McGraw” on the hood and sides.  Now, I wonder who’s gonna be ridin’ in THAT little cruiser…

After making sure everything is ready to go, our percussionist Dave, our drummer Billy, and I head out into the masses to see what’s what.  Folks are scattered out on the track, just kinda sittin’ around.  What am I missing?  It’s like us having people sitting up on stage until showtime.  I have to ask, and what I’m told is “it gets us all more connected.  They let us sit on the track until the race starts.”

Hmmm.  Okay.

Sarah Palin is scheduled to appear.  I don’t see her.  Harry Connick, Jr. is supposedly somewhere.  I don’t hear him.  So my boys and I take a walk down pit road, where the work before the work happens.  Piles of tires, tons of tools, and gaggles of reporters and fans and photographers swamp the makeshift aisles working their way between cars and crews.  It’s cool to see…but it feels like swimming upstream in both directions…so we head on back to the bus to get dressed for the show.

After all the travel and adventure it took to get to Daytona, the actual show just flies by.  Sure enough, a thunder of a motor kicks off the show and a race car rolls onto the stage carrying Mr. McGraw in true “500” form.  Fans rockin’, engines roaring – it’s time.

“Something Like That,” “Still,” and then “Southern Voice” are the songs that actually make it to television.  (We play a few others warming up for this little shindig.)  A massive flag corps has choreographed a routine for part of the show, so we get to see a little piece of our own show; THAT doesn’t happen often!

After the last note, we are hurried off the stage and back to the bus, which is already running and pointed toward Nashville.  Most of our boys have a more traditional Valentine’s Day waiting back in Tennessee to tend to, and they’re anxious to start, well…tendin’.

I get that, and I don’t blame ‘em.  Still, I can’t help but wonder.  Last year at this time, not content to spend the day at home alone, I ran away on my first ever deep-sea adventure to go fishing for valentines.  This year, I wake to Valentine’s Day 2010 surrounded by race cars at one of the coolest car races in the world.

I can only imagine what undiscovered adventure is waiting for me NEXT Valentine’s Day.

Huh.  We’re a bus.  Gentlemen…start your engines…



4 Responses to “Valentine’s Day-Tona”

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  1. Comment by Christine — May 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm  

    Jeff, your “Valentine’s Day-Tona” blog is sure a fun read. You’re so detailed and descriptive in your writings, it’s almost as if one is right there along with you.

    Yes, you’re definitely a man on the move, seeing so many different places in such short amounts of time. I guess that’s why you call yourself the Road Dog Runner.

    Who knows what next Valentine’s Day 2011 will bring for you. That’s the mystery of the future, and something to look forward to.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  2. Comment by Stacy — May 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm  

    Well, I will say this, your Valentine’s Day sounds much more interesting than mine was! I could most definitely enjoyed the day as you did…awesome! I mean, who doesn’t like the smell of fuel and burnin’ rubber in the morning. Yeehaw! LOL! Who needs roses and little pieces of toast in the shape of a heart with strawberries on the side anyway… well, that doesn’t sound too bad either! Too bad I got neither one.. dang! Maybe next year!!!

  3. Comment by Kyndal PayneFebruary 14, 2011 at 10:26 am  

    ” Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! very very very cool Faith” and
    very very very cool Tim”
    Your and Faith biggest fan and your biggest fan too,
    Kyndal” 🙂

  4. Comment by Jo Anne christopher — February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am  

    Gitter done boys. Make everyone happy. Love and kisses from a 73-year-old lady.

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